FRANKLIN -- It wasn't a 78-4 woodshed whipping like last year, but a 50-15 victory by the defending state duals champion Cleveland Blue Raiders over Wilson Central will suffice just as well as the Blue Raiders rolled easily to their second straight duals title here at the Williamson County Agricultural Expo Center Saturday night.
Pigeon Forge won its first state title in the A-AA division after finishing as the runner-up for the past three years with an impressive 43-25 victory over defending A-AA champ Greeneville.
The Baylor Red Raiders claimed their eighth State Duals title and first since 2011 with a resounding 36-25 victory over Father Ryan. The Purple Irish had won an earlier dual meet in Nashville, but Baylor rose to the occasion when it mattered most.
Cleveland coach Jake Yost has been following a strict schedule all season, making sure that his team didn't peak too soon and hoping that they'd be firing on all cylinders when the action moved to this spacious cow palace.
"Holy cow, these guys did a great job tonight," Yost said moments after the title had been clinched.
"We won 11 of 14 matches against a good Wilson Central team, but my guys did an incredible job and I'm ecstatic. When we get hot, we get hot and these guys just seem to feed off each other's energy and success.
"We believed that we could do it and we beat a really good team tonight. But when the lights come on and a big match is on the line, my guys like to perform," Yost added.
Eric Phillips is one of Cleveland's assistants who was the head coach before Yost took over. There is absolutely nobody in prep wrestling anywhere who gets more excited and more pumped in a big match than the always-enthusiastic Phillips. Saturday night's response was no different.
"It was an awesome performance by our guys, but I don't think anyone was expecting a margin of victory like we got. We knew that there were some key swing matches, but we won most of them," Phillips nodded.
"But when the pressure is on, these guys show up as they love performing in the spotlight," he added.
Now 27-3 for the year, Cleveland got pins in three of the first five weight classes and had a comfortable 24-0 lead following Tristan Blansit's 5-1 decision at 113.
The Wildcats earned a 4-2 decision by Christian Cerrito at 120 while Michael Bimms pin at 152 was the only other win for Wilson Central until Perry Balte was awarded a forfeit in the final match at 182 long after the outcome had been determined.
Ethan West got the Blue Raiders off and running on the right foot with a 38-second pin at 195 before Koran Kennedy earned a tough 3-2 decision over John Kramer at 220 in a match that could have gone either way.
John Gaither and Colton Landers followed with pins for Cleveland before Blansit's decision made it 24-0.
Josh Hamilton had the only other pin for Cleveland at 170, but always-tough Christopher Debien notched a win by technical fall at 126 and William Haas won by injury default at 145 as the Blue Raiders cruised to another dual meet win,
Cleveland had no problem whatsoever with Ravenwood in the semifinal round earlier in the day as the Blue Raiders dropped a 3-2 decision in the opening match before winning nine of the next 10 to prevail by a 46-25 margin over the Raptors.
And in much the same way they rolled past Halls in the quarterfinals on Friday, Cleveland elected to forfeit the final three weight classes after the outcome had been determined.
The Soddy Daisy Trojans weren't as fortunate as they got beat by the Wildcats for the second straight year. The last time wasn't nearly as close as those young men from Lebanon built a 42-9 lead before forfeiting the final four weight classes as they advanced with a 42-33 victory.
The Hixson Wildcats bounced back from a heartbreaking defeat against Pigeon Forge on Friday to beat White House and Alcoa to claim third place in the A-AA division.
Hixson, improving to 27-6 overall, beat the Tornadoes, 45-30.
"They came back this morning ready to battle and I'm really happy with the way we responded after such a heartbreaking loss on Friday night," said Hixson coach Garrick Hall after his team finished third for the fourth straight year.
""Third place certainly beats the alternative as I know a lot of teams sitting at home this weekend, but we came back and showed that we can overcome adversity. I just hope that we're fortunate enough to make it back here next year," he added.
Central lost its second straight match in the first round of consolation Saturday morning as White House prevailed, 42-20.
"We're just young and immature and we don't know how to be good yet," said Central coach John Lennon after the loss to White House.
"We have six freshmen and four sophomores in our lineup, but we're here competiing this year and that's a positive thing. I still feel like we should have won both of our matches, but we just aren't there yet," Lennon concluded.
While Hixson bounced back from Friday's gut-wrenching loss to Pigeon Forge, Soddy Daisy had a tough road following the loss to Wilson Central.
The Trojans came back to beat Heritage by a 43-33 final after getting past the Mountaineers by the skin of their teeth in Friday's first round. However, the celebration didn't last long as they followed with a 38-29 loss to Ravenwood in the match for third place.
The Trojans had won five of the opening six matches and were ahead by a seemingly-comfortable 29-4 margin, only to watch as the Raptors finished on a positive note with six straight wins, including three by pins.
Soddy Daisy coach Jim Higgins was visibly upset following the loss to Wilson Central, but he was much more realistic after the setback against Ravenwood.
"We wanted a better finish than fourth as we honestly feel like we're a Top Three team, but we have a lot of young kids in key spots and it's hard to be in the top three in Tennessee if you have holes in your lineup," Higgins said later.
"The truth about duals is its all about matchups. There's only so much you can do, but I don't think we saw our best effort today. We knew it would be tough to beat Heritage twice in two days, but the guys did a great job of responding.
"Tonight against Ravenwood, we were the goats. I'd like to wrestle them again, but we knew it would be tough in those upper weights and they came out ahead. You just have to take the good with the bad at times, but nobody ever said that it would be easy," the second-year coach nodded.
AAA CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL
CLEVELAND 50, WILSON CENTRAL 15
195 -- Ethan West (Clev) pinned Benjamin Liles, :38;
220 -- Koran Kennedy (Clev) dec. John Kramer, 3-2;
285 -- John Gaither (Clev) pinned Christian Frans, 3:36;
106 -- Colton Landers (Clev) pinned Nick King, 1:19;
113 -- Tristan Blansit (Clev) dec. Caleb Berta, 5-1;
120 -- Christian Cerrito (WC) dec. Taylor Bishop, 4-2;
126 -- Christopher Debien (Clev) won by technical fall over Lane Dickeson;
132 -- Austin Stevison (Clev) dec. Austin Richard, 7-6;
138 -- Ezra Taylor (Clev) dec. Eddie Small, 4-3;
145 -- William Haas (Clev) won by injury default over John Michael Jenkinson;
152 -- Michael Bimms (WC) pinned Jonathan Martin, :15;
160 -- Austin Oliver (Clev) dec. John Davidson, 13-10;
170 -- Josh Hamilton (Clev) pinned Tyler Georgeadis, 3:25;
182 -- Perry Balte (WC) won by forfeit.
A-AA CONSOLATION FINAL FOR THIRD PLACE
HIXSON 45, ALCOA 30
220 -- Guilane Palaccio (H) pinned Jake Warwick, 1:42;
285 -- Brody Gregory (H) pinned Seth Fiegler, 1:37;
106 -- Spencer Groves (H) pinned Michael Mora-Colon, 3:09;
113 -- Cederick Harris (H) pinned Anthony Richardson, :43;
120 -- Nathaniel Murphy (A) pinned Konner Ziegler, 2:57;
126 -- Ryan Verhulst (A) dec. Isaac Yates, 3-1;
132 -- Grayson Layne (H) pinned Sean Elder, 3:12;
138 -- Jovarrus Stegall (H) dec. Austyn Renshaw, 5-2;
145 -- George Hooker (A) pinned Ronny Huff, 3:55;
152 -- Karim Shereef (A) dec. Landon Goforth, 5-2;
160 -- Lyron Edwards (A) pinned Ryan Turner, 1:17;
170 -- Chris Nicholson (H) pinned Walter Henry, 1:17;
182 -- Tarik Twitty (H) pinned Kris Dockery, :34;
195 -- Nicholas Kali (A) won by forfeit.
AAA CONSOLATION FINAL FOR THIRD PLACE
RAVENWOOD 38, SODDY DAISY 29
106 -- Chase Payne (SD) pinned Elijah Dryer, 3:16;
113 -- Mason Blevins (SD) dec. Nicholas Freeman, 10-4;
120 -- Jacob McClure (SD) pinned Dennis Manko, 3:03;
126 -- Austin Houser (SD) dec. Charles Parsons, 8-4;
132 -- Chris Rowland (R) major dec. Connor Stiles, 11-3;
138 -- Tucker Russo (SD) pinned Matthew McLean, 1:53;
145 -- Gage Richmond (SD) won by technical fall over Jacob Costillo;
152 -- Taylor Warren (R) pinned Sheldon Roberson, 2:59;
160 -- Robin Klingensmith (R) pinned Austin Williamson, 5:17;
170 -- Alex Omessi (R) dec. Garrett Alexander, 9-3;
182 -- Cade Smith (R) major dec. Tyler Hixson, 10-2;
195 -- Ryan Geltch (R) dec. Hunter Maynor, 3-1;
220 -- Rex Shotts (R) pinned Christian Dean, :45;
285 -- Rhondell Walker (R) pinned Dylan Aslinger, 3:22.
AAA CHAMPIONSHIP SEMIFINALS
WILSON CENTRAL 42, SODDY DAISY 33
182 -- Tyler Hixson (SD) pinned Benjamin Liles, 5:21;
195 -- Perry Balte (WC) pinned Christian Dean, 1:28;
220 -- John Kramer (WC) won by forfeit;
285 -- Christian Frans (WC) pinned Dylan Aslinger, 4:50;
106 -- Chase Payne (SD) dec. Nick King, 8-4;
113 -- Caleb Berta (WC) pinned Mason Blevins, 5:39;
120 -- Christian Cerrito (WC) pinned Jacob McClure, 1:39;
126 -- Lane Dickeson (WC) dec. Austin Houser, 4-3;
132 -- Austin Richard (WC) pinned Conner Stiles, :57;
138 -- Eddie Small (WC) dec. Emory Holcomb, 12-10;
145 -- Tucker Russo (SD) won by forfeit;
152 -- Gage Richmond (SD) won by forfeit;
160 -- Austin Williamson (SD) won by forfeit;
170 -- Garrett Alexander (SD) won by forfeit.
CLEVELAND 46, RAVENWOOD 25
182 -- Cade Smith (R) dec. Josh Hamilton, 3-2;
195 -- Ethan West (C) pinned Ryan Geltch, :51;
220 -- Rex Shotts (R) major dec. Koran Kennedy, 12-3;
285 -- John Gaither (C) dec. Rhondell Walker, 3-2;
106 -- Colton Landers (C) pinned Elijah Dryer, :52;
113 -- Tristan Blansit (C) pinned Nicholas Freeman, 1:44;
120 -- Taylor Bishop (C) pinned Dennis Manko, 1:40;
126 -- Christopher Debien (C) pinned Charles Parsons, 1:57;
132 -- Austin Stevison (C) major dec. Chris Rowland, 17-8;
138 -- Ezra Taylor (C) pinned Tripp Waring, :23;
145 -- William Haas (C) dec. Alec Finney, 6-2;
152 -- Taylor Warren (R) won by forfeit;
160 -- Robin Klingensmith (R) won by forfeit;
170 -- Alex Omessi (R) won by forfeit.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)